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Windows Mixed Reality in the Hands on: Microsoft's Virtual Reality

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017 | Gadgets

Although Microsoft speaks of Windows Mixed Reality, this is virtual reality by head-mounted display. At the Ifa 2017, Redmond and its partners – Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo – presented their headsets for Windows 10. We've been able to try several of them an hour and are positively impressed: picture quality, comfort and tracking.

The four VR headsets are based on the same hardware but have smaller differences. All in common is a headband-like holder with fold-up display as with Sony's PSVR and a weight of under 400 grams. This makes them more comfortable than HTC's Vive and Oculus' Rift, which press on the face. Brillent carriers can use Windows Mixed Reality, with us the glasses and lenses sneaked less than with the competition.
Acer, for example, uses foam on the front upholstery, while HP is rubbery. So that no light falls into the headset, there is padding or soft plastic. The holding strap is adjusted by rotary control as with the PSVR, but we have also seen a method, which reminds of a reclosable cable binding. Which one of the attachments is the most comfortable remains open, they have the same effect. We prefer the set screw so far.

    Windows Mixed Reality needs the Creators Update case. (Photo: Marc Sauter / Golem.de)

Although the headsets are connected via a 4 m cable to a Windows-10 computer via HDMI and USB, it does not need any external sensors. Instead, two fisheye cameras are located on the outer front of the head-mounted display. After a short setup, in which the surroundings are recorded, the inside-out positional tracking is carried out using certain fixed points in the room. A virtual security cage is optional.

All headsets are equipped with two motion controllers whose LEDs are tracked by the cameras. This worked very well with us, however, there were misfires, because we are with the cables collide. The controllers work without, but the batteries do not hold a measurement day. The ergonomics lie between HTC Vive and Oculus Touch. The input devices are connected via Bluetooth to the system – if you have a desktop without, the controllers can not use. A dongle is not according to the partners.

    The display can be folded up. (Photo: Michael Wieczorek / Golem.de)

In the headsets are two 2.98 inch panels, which work surprisingly with LC instead of OLED technology. According to Microsoft, Impulse Backlighting is used to achieve low persistence, which prevents streaks. Also thanks to two 1,440 x 1,440 pixel panels, the image quality is comparable to that of the Rift and Vive, the same applies to the horizontal and the vertical field of view.
Microsoft's partners offer the VR headsets from October 17, 2017 for around 450 euros. The necessary case Creator's Update for Windows 10 appears the same day. In addition to Universal Windows Apps, Valves SteamVR is supported, so the software offer is huge from the start.


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